Seems like the recent reports of Boston Bruins backup goaltender Niklas Svedberg leaving the National Hockey League maybe true. The Sollentuna, Sweden native has signed a one-year deal with the Salavat Yulaev team of the Kontinental Hockey League. Svedberg is set to be a free-agent once his one-year NHL contract expires on July 1st.
The undrafted 25 year old signed an entry-level contract back in May of 2012 after Bruins scouts thought he had what it takes to play North American pro hockey, after a decent career in the Swedish Elite League. In his first season (2012-13) with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, Svedberg was outstanding, posting a 37-8-2 record, a goals against of 2.17, and a .925 save percentage. His second season he played well, as he shared time with first year AHL rookie goaltender Malcolm Subban, and earned a 25-15-4 record, a 2.63 goals against, and .910 save percentage.
On June 23rd 2014 the Bruins signed him to a one-year, one-way contract after the team decided not to resign former backup Chad Johnson, whom was scooped up from the New York Islanders via free agency. The 2014-15 season would be Svedberg’s first as a rookie in the NHL, but as a backup he struggled at times with consistency, while helping the team when starting goaltender Tuukka Rask needed time off. He appeared in 18 games in this past regular season, and although he did have a good goals against (2.33), and save percentage (.918) his 7-5-1 record was not impressive, thus giving more games (70) to Rask.
As any young developing goaltender, to find consistency you have to play in many games to find your groove, but Svedberg thought he played well and said “The number of games weren’t what I expected,” and “I was hoping to play more, and I think I was playing good this year. So certainly I was hoping for more games. “The kind of position we were in, there was a lot of pressure here on the team, so Tuukka played a lot of games and he also played very well. It’s the way it is. It was kind of frustrating. You want to play more, but that’s the way it is.”
So whats next for the Bruins that will be looking for a backup goaltender for the fourth year in a row? Well there are a few options down in Providence that could help out. Goaltender Jeremy Smith played well in his first season with Providence posting a 22-11-5 record, a 2.05 goals against, and .933 save percentage. Smith is slated to be a free agent this coming July 1st, but if the Bruins resign him to be the backup to Rask next season, it would be a smart move for the team, as Smith’s salary would not be a high one, and could work for the team that already has cap issues.
Another option could be goaltender Malcolm Subban, but his numbers the past two seasons down in Providence prove he might not be ready for the NHL just yet. Those two seasons he has posted 31-23-9 record, a 2.37 goals against, and .920 save percentage.
The Bruins may also look outside the organization if the funds are available. Unrestricted goaltenders that might be looking for new homes this July 1st are Karri Ramo, Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth, Andrew Hammond, and Viktor Fasth